The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece
Over two millenia ago, two powerful city-states fought for primacy in Ancient Greece. The Peloponnesian War set democratic Athens against its main rival, the autocratic Sparta, in a conflict that dragged on for over a century. This book details the long fight, with its many shifting alliances, victories, and defeats, eventually ending, not with the fall of Athens’ Long Walls, but with Sparta’s complete destruction.
This book is exceedingly comprehensive for a book written for a general audience. It is highly readable and quite interesting; the smooth descriptions and detailed portraits of the key statesmen are particularly engaging. Frequently, it is difficult to sort out who is fighting whom, due to oft-shifting alliances, and the fact that the same polis may have several different names, but the author does a decent job of keeping you abreast of the tide. For those readers who want a less detailed play-by-play, each chapter begins with an excellent summary of action, as well as analysis; readers who read only the summary will still get a great picture of the conflict. But there are many lessons from this war that are still applicable, and serious students will be well served by studying this work.
Jennifer T. Roberts
Oxford University Press